Post-game Reactions

(For the Magic perspective, check Third Quarter Collapse and Orlando Magic Daily)

The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a better Game Two. Rondo gets out of his funk and attacks the basket, Paul Pierce gets to rest those tired legs for nearly the entire game, Perk plays the best defense of his life on the best interior player in the game, and Eddie House comes alive for the second time in the playoffs to show how valuable a member he is to this team.

If someone were to tell me that Eddie House would be the game’s high scorer and he would drive base line with his left, I would have asked them if they also thought Patrick O’Bryant was going to see minutes for us this year (When we signed him, I actually thought he’d break out….damn my homer-optimism). No one could have guessed that Eddie House would play like a man possessed tonight. Everyone knows Eddie is a streaky shooter, but shooting 11-14 and 4-4 from deep is better than just streaky, hell, it’s 79%.

The first two games of this series, the Celtics bench has really provided a pick-me-up. In the first game, Scal came in and started hitting threes and playing really good defense while tonight’s game belonged to Eddie House (although you could make a case for Scal playing really great D on Rashard Lewis). If you take a look at the box score for tonight’s game, you’ll see that the Celtics’ line looks more like the Bulls in a game that actually ended in regulation. Two guys off the bench, a ‘big’ and a ‘little,’ playing starter’s minutes and making huge contributions.

Before last night’s game, every analyst, save for maybe Chris Broussard, wrote about the C’s being too tired to win, too injured to compete, too small up front to defend Dwight Howard. I can’t wait to see the experts explain this one.

Last night, I think they saw, what I saw. A game where a veteran team, the reigning NBA Champions really showed their mettle. Although, I got to say, I expected things to go very differently. I expected a hard-fought Celtics’ win via a slugfest. I predicted Pierce to be out of breath during the news conference, Rondo to have tired/ hurt feet, and Glen Davis to have shed at least five pounds chasing Rashard Lewis. I expected, what would have effectively been, a repeat of a game from the last series. So, in order to prepare to watch every possession as if it were to be the game changer, I started writing down everything I thought was significant from timeout to timeout. However, it quickly grew apparent that this game would have its moments more than its quality back and forth. Here is an abridged version of the notes I took in chronological order:

  • The C’s offense looks pretty good early on with Pierce hitting a three early, but within two minutes, both Glen Davis and Paul Pierce pick up their first and second fouls respectively and are quickly subbed in for Brian Scalabrine and Stephon Marbury. (In hindsight, this was a great move by Doc. We all saw what happened in Game One where Davis stayed in at the end of the quarter and picked up his fourth and fifth foul in a minute’s span. This was not to be the case tonight as Doc began managing the game very well.)
  • Despite the subs, we build the lead to 12-6 because of strong attacking play from both Perkins and Rondo.
  • The Celtics begin to start making great passes, a tone that would remain throughout the game. The Celtics would finish the game with 34 assists (Rondo having 18 of them). The Celtics also begin to crash the boards, something they keep up for the entire game, out-rebounding the Magic 41-34. J.J. Redick keeps the Magic within striking distance with long-range shooting we haven’t seen since he was wearing a different shade of blue.
  • The Celtics are running plays instead of one-on-one offense. Perk gets open for a wide open inbounds play easy two. Meanwhile, Scal blocks a shot (WHAT?!) and Rondo passes up a jumper and takes it inside. The “go at Howard” offense Doc implemented before the game seems to really resonate with Rondo as he stops settling for jumpers and starts attacking the basket more.
  • Marbury is shooting terribly from the field but Rondo is continuing to dish the ball expertly. One pass of note: in the lane, through Gortat’s out-stretched hands to a wide open Davis. Eddie completes the aforementioned left-handed baseline drive and gets two off the glass.
  • Davis steals the ball but is blatantly out of bounds (should be a topic of Around the Horn and PTI tomorrow). Eddie House continues to get open and knock down some threes. Rondo makes a great pass to Davis and had he dunked it the Garden would have erupted (I’m glad he didn’t though as this could have been an easy “Josh Smith-esque” faux pas).
  • Pierce picks up his third foul on a hard steal attempt. (After watching the replay, it should have been a no call as Pierce got a lot of ball, but you can’t expect to go in that hard and not a get a foul called on you, probably a frustration play on Pierce).
  • Great passing leads to three from Scal, Ray and a near three from Eddie. Redick picks up his third foul and Perk makes an actual dribble drive to the basket and gets an And-1. (The replay shows how funny Perk looks driving in. It prompted everyone in the room to make “slow motion” comments).
  • Davis’ picks Lewis’ pocket, but almost turns it over, Rondo goes over and talks to him. (This moment was really funny to me because it was the one over-reacher on the team giving advice to the other over-reacher. The good news is, they both play hard.)
  • Perk out-muscles Howard on both offense and defense. House drains another three that he shouldn’t have been able to get off.
  • RONDO’S MONSTER DUNK. Not only did Rondo fly through the air doing his best Air Jordan impression, but he also secured his triple-double with these two points. (Interestingly enough, right before Rondo dunked the ball, everyone with whom I was watching the game with began conjecturing why Rondo wasn’t taking the ball to the hole as much as he did in the series with Chicago. The most popular response was that he was afraid of Dwight Howard, doesn’t seem to be the case).
  • Eddie hits a three in Alston’s face, who takes exception and smacks him on the head. (After the game Alston said he reacted to Eddie putting an elbow in his stomach. I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that Alston will probably be suspended for Friday night’s game.)
  • Lewis smacks Rondo on the head but luckily, it was an accident and Rondo keeps his cool.
  • Scal hits a really deep three signifying game over as Doc subs in his entire bench on the next stoppage of time.
  • Both Tony Allen and Bill Walker are not wearing their knee braces which lead me to believe that they believed they would not be playing.
  • Game ends and Perk and Mikki Moore give each other an awkward hug.
  • Interspersed throughout all of my notes included many, “How the hell did House get that off?” as well as “House for three.” However, the notes that kept constantly reoccurring included, “great close-out” and “Celts’ dominating the boards” and “great interior passing.” All of these things show that the Celtics’ really brought their “A” game tonight.

    If you’re a Celtics’ fan, you have to be encouraged. Rondo got a triple-double without shooting well (7-19). Ray Allen took it inside despite being blocked big time in the first game and his mid-range game was stellar (he also didn’t shoot well from three, 2-7, and is due). The bench played really well; well enough to be trusted. Paul Pierce only played 16 minutes. For a guy who has looked really tired these last two games to only needing to play 16 minutes is huge. Not only does he have the opportunity to rest his legs, but he also, like Ray, is due for a break out game offensively.

    Charles Barkley in so many words, said that the Magic were complacent and just happy to get one win in Boston so they could get home court. Despite losing home court advantage, this actually helps the Celtics. The Magic, and more specifically Dwight Howard, have been questioned about their drive and their heart before. Maybe this game will serve to break their spirits beyond repair. If not, at least the C’s have put themselves in the best possible position they could have hoped for after that game one loss.

    All I can say is, see you in sunny Orlando.

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    • I think you should have given Bill Walker a charity sport in the House graphic.

    • *spot

    • Jim

      "due" does not exist.

    • Brendan Jackson

      Hey Jim,

      Thanks for reading. When I say "due" I don't mean a predictable part of the game where I know unequivocally that both Ray and Paul are going to have great games. However, with great players, the law of averages suggest that they will both play better soon, thus, I feel they are "due" for a good game. And let me tell you, I hope I'm right.